Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chopper 3 Pilot, Photographer Recall Dangerous Run-In With Drone (with video)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was an average assignment for our helicopter photographer Al Nugent and pilot Ray Oechslin, when something buzzed across the sky just hundreds of feet from the chopper.

“My pilot Ray, shouted out drone,” Nugent recalled.

“The first thing that we do is try to identify,” Oechslin explained. “Try to find. Try to identify and then avoid.”

Their average assignment turned into one that was much more dangerous. “It was going after the police helicopter,” Oechslin said. “But then it came after us.”

That drone was flying in restricted airspace well above the legal 400-foot height limit and it was moving so fast that neither Nugent or Oechslin were able to keep it in their sight for more than a few seconds.

“At one point, he was coming right at our side door,” Oechslin said. “If it hits the rotor system, it creates a catastrophic environment,” Nugent said.

“A drone will bring [a helicopter] out of the sky if it hits it in the right spot,” Oechslin explained.

Fortunately, before anything deadly could happen, Philly Police were able to track the drone to the Evo building at The Cira Centre. 20-year-old Drexel student, Joe Roselli was spotted on the roof, operating it.

He was arrested a charged with reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe. “I think if the penalty is imposed as it should be, I think people will be more careful. Let’s put it that way,” Nugent said.

“That’s what people think, they’re toys. But, they could hurt somebody or even kill someone,” Oechslin said.

If you plan to own and operate a drone, remember:

You have to register it with the FAA
You have to keep it within eyesight
You have to keep it below 400-feet

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